September 17, 2012

Is 4-Point Calvinism Logical?

I meant to write a post carefully defining Amyraldism, but I haven't been able to find some of the data I wanted, so I'll have to postpone that until I do.

So the next thing I wanted to talk about is the common claim that Limited Atonement is a necessary corollary to the rest of Calvinism. Anyone who rejects this idea is simply an inconsistent thinker. Is this true?

Well, first of all, I find any Calvinism short of Hypercalvinism to be illogical anyway. So I have to instead ask, is 4-point Calvinism more illogical that Calvinism in general. My answer is a surprising no.

First of all, I think that Amyraut did a pretty good job explaining an unlimited atonement view. In his view, God first designed the atonement, and designed it in an unlimited manner, and then decided to apply it only to the elect. If we strictly look at the nature of the atonement itself, I don't see any difference between this view, and the Arminian view. The atonement was made for humanity, is infinite in its power, and yet is only applied to the elect. For Limited Atonement to truly be Limited Atonement, Christ had to specifically have in made each individual elect person.

All that said, I don't believe that the average 4-pointer thought as carefully about this as Amyraut did. You may remember that I would define a 4-point Calvinist as a less theologically conscience person than an Amyraldian. As such, a 4-pointer is less logical about their belief in the atonement. However, I would consider such a person is no less logically coherent than a casual Calvinist. They simply view the five points as pieces instead of as a theological system. So again, I can't say that they are more logically inconsistent.

So when asked when a Calvinist accepts Unlimited Atonement, are they being logically inconsistent, I would have to say, probably, but not necessarily. In the end though, any logical inconsistency that may come from a rejection of Limited Atonement is irrelevant to the greater inconsistency of a loving God who elects unconditionally for salvation.


Anonymous said...

Is religion even logical? I find it funny when someone says "my illogical is better than your illogical!"

Jc_Freak: said...

Religon can be alogical in certain parts, but you need to remember that logic is about appllication of rules upon premises. The complete rejection of religon has less to do with logic itself, and more to do with one's premises.

Anonymous said...

Okay, but my question was specifically: is belief in a religion illogical? To generalize: is the belief in something for which no material evidence exists illogical?

To dismiss the statement that religion is true is not illogical; no evidence exists to support its truth.

To blatantly state it is false, however, with a lack of evidence is just as illogical.

Jc_Freak: said...

I believed I answered that question. The answer is no, it is not illogical. It is alogical. Evidence is merely one means of establishing the reasonableness of something.

I also would not say that religon is inheritly without evidence, but that's another discussion I think.

Anonymous said...

Religion itself isn't *inherently* without evidence, that is true. There is no evidence, however, for a deity.

Alogical has several definitions. One valid definition is: "Opposed to or lacking in logic." Another is "being outside the bounds of that to which logic can apply"

I think you're saying it is alogical per the 2nd definition.

There are several ways to establish the reasonableness of something, from a logical perspective, but they all follow the process of deduction (even mathematical proofs); religion does not hold with any of those techniques.

Jc_Freak: said...

I am simply going to have to disagree with you, in part. It is important to distinguish between religon and theology. Religon is a socialogical concept, defined not only by certian beliefs, but also by the ethic, polity, and culture of communities. As such, it seems odd to me to criticize religon solely on logic.

Theology on the other hand is the philosophical study of a theistic worldview, and I would argue that Christian theology is replete with careful logic, even of a mathamatical kind. Not every Christian is a theologian, and thus there are many who are religous which may seem as if they exist contrary to logic. But this does not represent the Christian worldview, since it is best to judge a worldview by its best adherents, not its most common.

Anonymous said...

Okay, well I would ask you then how does one logically conclude that a deity created the earth? Is there an evidence trail for this? How does one use the standard rules of logic to draw this conclusion? Typically, one starts with an axiom; something that has been proven.

I agree with your definition of theology vs. religion, and that is a good lesson. Thank you.

Jc_Freak: said...

First off there are the parisomious arguements from inherant order in the universe (telological arguement) and transdental realities (transdental arguement). The cosmological arguement is solid unless you allow for infinite regression (which few would). There is the moral arguement but that isn't a mathematical proof. There is also the historical evidence for Christianity in particular, but again that is a different kind of proof.

At this point I have two questions for you though. What can I call you (since we are have an extended conversation, which I am quite enjoying I might add), and what is your personal position?

Anonymous said...

Both the telological arguement and the transcendental argument make the claim that God is the source; whether it is that the universe was *designed* or that God is the source of morals.. both of them make that assumption, but I don't see how those follow standard rules of logic; they do indeed some serious assumptions.

As far as complexity is a result of design, I too don't see how this fits via the mathematical rules of logic; there are statements that are assumed true, but not proven.

As far as morals go, logically they make sense, but those do not establish the existence of a deity, just that there aren't contradictions.

The cosmological argument is a new one to me, so I'll have to look into it.

I'm not sure what I am. I generally follow material or theoretical evidence. I guess I need something concrete to show up for me to accept a deity.. but I can't dismiss it.

If 500 years ago someone told us they believed that a particle with the properties of the Higgs Boson existed, they'd be laughed at.. and everyone would have been wrong.

Jc_Freak: said...

As far as the transcendental arguement is concerned, there are other transcendantal realities beside morals. Logic and math for instance. How does logic it self exist? Why do we examine the universe and expect it to be ordered? It is the great assumption of materialism. I've written about this here and here.

As for assumptions, I think you are in error in saying that something is illogical if it makes assumptions. Indeed, assumptions, or premises, are necessary in order for logic to work. You have to start somewhere. Therefore we need to have some basic assumptions. THe basic assumption of the telological arguement and the transcendental arguement is the principle of parsimony, which is a highly respected and scientificly honored principle.

Anonymous said...

I guess I question the logic because I don't see anything to tie the specific conclusions to the assumptions. For example, following the rules of logic, Why couldn't I replace the word "God" or "deity" with "lamp" or "natural process"; it would still draw the same conclusions if you used the same logical process. I guess the assumptions are: there is a God, the God created us, the God gave us our morals and intelligence.

I don't see how any of those can be established through the rules of logic, or scientific reasoning (rules of logic with empirical evidence).

Anonymous said...

I guess my problem is that with the assumptions theologists use, you could essentially replace "God" with "lamp" or "natural process", and using the same set of rules and assumptions derive that "lamps exist, therefor, lamps gave us our morals and intelligence".

I'm not yet seeing the logical steps to prove the propositions that 1) God exist, and 2) God is directly responsible for our morals, intelligence, etc.

Jc_Freak: said...

BTW, comments automatically become moderated after 10 days. Sorry for not warning you about that.

Anyhoo, I gave four different arguements, and each lead to God in different ways. You focused in on the morallity, but I admitted that one isn't a logical proof. The arguement is simply ethics can't really exist without there being a judge. A good atheist would say, "Fine, then ethics are simply a nicety", and poof, the proof goes away. First one needs to prove that moral objectively exist, and then you are back to the transcental arguement, which is a different thing.

The teological arguement leads to an intellegent designer. Lamps don't have intelligence. In order to qualify as an appropriate solution to the teological arguement, you need something causeless, with power enough to create the cosmos, and an intelligence. Personally, I would call that a definition of a diety, even if that deity looks like a lamp or a plate of spaghetti.

The transcental arguement is too complex to really engage with here. If you like, you can comment on that argument on one of the posts I made about the Transcental arguement. I linked to them above.

Anonymous said...

Okay, my question is then, if morals and ethics need a judge, who said this judge has to be a deity? Could the judge not be collective thought of the people? Different people have different ethics and morals.

Lamps do not have intelligence, but we do have material evidence that they exist. God is assumed to have intelligence, but it has not been measured or quantified in anyway. It could be that the Lamp-deity left lamps behind as a guide for us to see he is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is just as logical (given the rules of logic) to assume that as it is to assume that morals have to come from a non-lamp deity.

"you need something causeless, with power enough to create the cosmos, and an intelligence"

I don't see, at all, how it can be established that this "something" has to be an intelligent something. A big bang certainly is something.

From my understanding of the transcendental argument, the deductive reasoning starts with the premise "without a god, knowledge cannot exist". If you accept that statement as true, then you can conclude God exists... but that doesn't mean the premise has been established as true.

From where did got get his intelligence and morals?

Jc_Freak: said...


BTW, I started a new post based off of our conversation. I was curious whether you've seen it.